Soap Opera Fans Collect Brazilian Productions

In a scenario of declining soap opera ratings, soap opera enthusiasts gather to debate stories

Rio de Janeiro

It was the passion for soap operas that led filmmaker Lufe Steffen to travel to Portugal for the first time, not the main attractions of the Lusitanian country, such as the Tagus River or the Belém Tower. Steffen, director of the film "We Are Tomorrow," got in touch in Lisbon with someone who had VHS tapes with all the episodes of the soap opera "Dancin' Days," aired on Globo in 1978 and rerun on Portuguese TV in 2000.

Collectors like Steffen are generally attached to past successes. The narratives, situations, and dialogues of characters from other times sometimes seem out of place in a politically correct world like today's, but it's these soap operas from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s that have the most staunch admirers. Administrative assistant Walter de Azevedo, 52, has a personal collection of about 300 soap operas - not counting individual chapters of still incomplete plots.

Today, soap opera enthusiasts don't need to worry about recording episodes. In addition to the Viva cable channel, which reruns old soap operas, Globoplay offers plots from different eras in its catalog. The platform now even provides incomplete soap operas, which had episodes lost by the broadcaster in fires or due to reuse of original tapes.

"The intention of those who record, generally, is to review, but with life's obligations and new releases that we keep up with, this isn't as common as it seems," says Fábio Costa, teledramaturgy researcher and editor-in-chief of the Observatório da TV website. That's why he believes the figure of the unconditional soap opera enthusiast needs to be valued, beyond the "craziness" each one is capable of for love of the format. "The value of the private collection, which preserves things that sometimes even the broadcasters don't have, is very important and should be praised. Without the tapes recorded at home by many people since the 1980s, there are moments of our TV that would be lost," says Costa, also a passionate person and owner of a small private collection. The reason he keeps his collection? "If one day no one else has it and you want to watch again, you know you have the soap opera!" he says.

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